For the second straight game the Blackhawks found themselves behind after the first period in their Western Conference Quarterfinals series against Calgary Saturday night, and for the second straight game they regrouped and captured the 3-2 victory.
“That’s not the way we drew it up, that’s for sure,” said Jonathan Toews
. “Again, we didn’t play as effectively as we wanted to at the start of the game, but I think we realized that. It’s tough going down two goals, but we knew there was a lot of hockey left.”
A tough, physical first period put the Hawks in a 2-0 hole, and the young team was hit hard and often by a strong Calgary squad. But the second period proved to be critical for the Hawks, as they scored three unanswered goals – including a power play tally by Toews – and the Blackhawks played with the lead for the entire third period. The goal with the man advantage was the Hawks’ first since April 8.
“We kept telling ourselves that the power play was going to make a big difference and it sure did tonight,” Toews said. “We knew it was going to give us a momentum boost and a little confidence. We used that confidence to go out and play and help each other.”
“We had to feel good about ourselves there in the second,” Duncan Keith
said. “Toews played great, and we had great puck movement on the power play. They came out flying, but we picked it up as the game went along.”
Of course, no team is “comfortable” playing from behind, but at the very least the Hawks seem able to maintain their poise when down. It’s not a position that they want to be in, but the Hawks have proven that they cannot be counted out of any game, especially in the playoffs.
“After the first period, we weren’t happy down 2-0 in our own building. I don’t think that’s anywhere near what we were looking for,” said head coach Joel Quenneville, “but I like how we got it back the last two periods.”
The Blackhawks now head to Canada for the next two games having held their serve on home ice. But if the escalating competition of Saturday is any indication, the toughest hockey is yet to be played.
“I think we’re happy about the situation we’ve put ourselves in. But we don’t want to get comfortable for one second," said Toews. "This game was tougher than the last one and both teams played better. The games are only going to get tougher, especially with their home crowd and the atmosphere up there.”
"Going into their building is going to be tough,” Keith added. “Our fans helped us out here, keeping the momentum and cheering for us. But we’ve going to be ready to go right from the start next game.”